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International Women's Day March 8, 2021

  • Meet a Nova Scotia nurse from WWII

  • A new website wants your grandmother's war story

Edith Stein (nee Levine)
Photo of Lt. Edith Stein, born Edith Levine, from Inverness, Cape Breton, Nova Scotia. She served as a nurse with the Canadian Army during the Second World War. This photo was taken in 1944 overseas. (Courtesy Jewish Canadian Military Museum).

On the occasion of International Women's Day, we should pay some attention to the bravery and courage of the 250 plus Canadian Jewish women who served in the Second World War. 
One of these women was Lt. Edith Levine, a Nova Scotia-born nurse who enlisted in 1943, when she was 22. After basic training at Camp Borden, Ontario, she went overseas to England, and treated wounded men from the D-Day landings and beyond, while attached to the 21st General Canadian Hospital.
During that time, she would have learned that her brother, Lt. John Orrell Levine, (Jack) had been killed in action in France. I visited his grave in 2019. He was attached to a British regiment as part of the CANLOAN project that saw over 500 young Canadian officers seconded to lead British platoons into combat.
He is buried in Hautot-les-Bagues, a French war cemetery along a back road south of Bayeux. 
From October 1944, Edith Levine followed the Canadian troops across the English Channel as they battled to liberate Western Europe from the Nazis. She was posted in France, then Germany, and she spent the fall and winter months after V-E Day serving in Belgium before coming home at the end of 1945. Edith died on March 6, 2010.
The Levine family had a tradition of military service: aside from brother Jack, Edith's sister Ruth Lelacheur joined the RCAF Women's Division. 

"She Also Serves": A New Website Showcasing Canada's Jewish Women in Uniform in WWII"

 
As in most areas of the study of military history, Canadian women military historians have been in the minority.  That is even more true for Jewish Canadian military historians. However the scene is slowly changing, and more space is being made for Jewish Canadian women historians telling the history of the contribution of women to Canada's war story.

That's why this new website at the University of Calgary called "She Also Serves" is so valuable. 
Please read my story about this here.

RCAF Woman
 
I also want to mention professor Jennifer Shaw Lander, a PhD student at the University of Western Ontario. She is documenting how Jewish Canadian women served on the home front. Those who built the bombs, knitted the sweaters and raised money through Hadassah. We served on a panel event in August, sponsored by the Ontario Jewish Archives. If you missed it, the event video is here. (You have to log in.)
Ellin's coming events:

March 23. How Edmonton's Jewish community mobilized for WWII: Probus Club of South Edmonton.

         May 4. "He Wanted to Save Them All": Canadian Soldiers encounters with the Holocaust during WWII. Ellin speaks at Liberation 75 on Monday May 4, 2021. With special guest Bob Delson, son of a Canadian RCAF rigger who photographed Bergen Belsen.

             May 26. Ellin speaks to the Aurora Historical Society about the Liberation of Holland in WWII and the Canadian Jewish fighters who were there.

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Copyright © 2021 Ellin Bessner, All rights reserved.

Ellin Bessner · 951 Carlaw Avenue · Suite 149b · Toronto, Ontario, Ontario M4K3M2 · Canada


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